You probably already know that solar panels work their best when the sun is high up in the sky and that their efficiency lessens when there is cloud coverage or rain. But what happens if there is snow on solar panels? Can they work at all, or is the snow a true obstruction? And how can you safely clean the snow off your panels during the winter? Read on to find out as we delve deeper into solar panel efficiency in less than pristine weather conditions.
Do Solar Panels Work When There is Snow?
First things first, it is important to emphasize that solar panels do indeed work in the winter. Their only requirement is sunlight, and the sun is still present in the sky during the winter months.
However, the sun’s rays cannot hit your panels directly during the winter, as most days are cloudy. In addition, the days are shorter, so the cumulative sunlight hours are lower as well. Thus, the panels work, but they create less power than during the summer.
When there is snow coverage, matters get slightly more complicated. Namely, if the snow covers the system completely, the sunlight won’t be able to reach the photovoltaic cells in the panels. In other words, the panels won’t be able to produce power at all.
However, there is no need to panic. There are quite a few things you can do to ensure your panels can work without any issues, even when it snows.
The Panels Have a Special Design
Firstly, most solar panels are inclined at a certain angle. This incline ensures that they receive the most sunlight for the longest periods of the day. The angle depends on where a certain home is located (the latitude), as well as that area’s usual climate.
Since the panels are inclined, snow rarely has the chance to stick to them. Even if it accumulates, it usually just slides off as soon as it becomes too heavy. Thus, the panels can clean themselves from snow pretty efficiently, thanks to the way they were installed.
In addition, you should note that panels are pretty much made to attract sunlight. On average, the panels are at least 20° C warmer than the temperature of the air. Thus, even just a little sunlight would help the accumulated snow melt all on its own. And as it does, it can clean your panels quite effectively, making them even more efficient.
But What If the Snow Still Remains on the Panels?
Sometimes, snowstorms can be so heavy that the snow sticks to the panels immediately and doesn’t slide off or melt. In such cases, you will have to get the panels cleaned.
It is important that you don’t attempt to clean the panels yourself. For one, everything will be slippery and wet. Thus, you will be in danger of slipping and seriously injuring yourself.
Furthermore, you probably lack the equipment necessary to clean the panels safely. Simply using a shovel or any other tool you have at hand could damage the panels. That is something you want to avoid, as the repair costs can be quite hefty.
Instead, you should contact your solar provider and let them know about your problem. They have the equipment necessary to clean the panels safely. In addition, their workers have the experience and knowledge necessary to clean and maintain panels in any and all weather conditions.
To Sum Up
Although they can work well enough during winter, solar panels are rendered useless when covered in snow. Luckily, the snow usually slides off them or melts before you can truly feel the lack of power. And if it doesn’t, your solar provider can clean them for you, ensuring that they are at their most effective once more.